Guinea worm: a case study of an eradication programme

Published on June 30, 2020   40 min

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My name is Professor David Molyneux. I'm an emeritus professor in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I'm going to talk to you about Guinea worm, as a case study of an eradication programme. I've been involved with Guinea worm for some 20 plus years as a member of the International Commission for the Certification of the Eradication of Dracunculiasis, which is an independent group of experts who provide advice to the World Health Organisation on the status of the certification programme in countries which are seeking to eliminate the disease and eventually certify its eradication from the planet.
I want to start by giving you some essentials of Guinea worm. It's a filarial nematode. It's scientific name is Dracunculus medinensis, and it's transmitted to humans by the ingestion of water fleas of the genera Cyclops and Mesocyclops. The adult worms emerge from ulcers after approximately 12-14 months, after an ingestion of an infected Cyclops. It is the female worms that emerge from the body, usually emerging from the lower limbs, but also capable of emerging elsewhere, from the hands or even the breasts of individuals who are infected. In some cases, more than one worm can emerge over the period of 12-14 months after the infected water fleas had been ingested. The release of the millions of larvae, which the female worms produce, comes from the erosion of the skin into an ulcerating blister, which is exceedingly painful to the individual, committing them to try and alleviate the pain and the burning sensation, by putting their limbs in water, hence the Cyclops become infected with these larvae.

Guinea worm: a case study of an eradication programme

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